OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA A new blueprint for federal, state and local action to help children who have been exposed to violence was unveiled today by Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder. Safe From the Start: Taking Action on Children Exposed to Violence offers both general principles and specific suggestions for helping children who were either victims of or witnesses to violence. It also provides examples of effective programs and lists of available resources. The Action Plan was introduced today at a "Safe From the Start" regional forum in Oakland, one of nine regional forums being held across California. The forums are part of the national Children Exposed to Violence Initiative (CEVI).

"We know that when children are exposed to violence repeatedly, the consequences can be severe and long-lasting," said Holder. "Although we understand the problem, protecting children can be difficult. Many different elements - from law enforcement to social services - get involved in these cases. But no one discipline by itself can see the complete picture, and as a result, many children don't get the full range of services and support they need."

CEVI, which was launched by President Clinton in December 1998, is a nationwide effort to seek new and effective means to prevent children's exposure to violence, to adopt innovative intervention efforts, and to find better ways to hold perpetrators accountable.

In June 1999, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services convened the National Summit on Children Exposed to Violence, which brought together 150 professionals in law enforcement, the courts, child and family services, and mental health, as well as federal, state and local governments. The summit participants developed a framework for understanding and addressing children's exposure to violence, which became the basis for the Action Plan.

"The Action Plan illustrates that we all need to reach across disciplines to establish comprehensive efforts to protect children from violence," noted Holder. Safe From the Start: Taking Action on Children Exposed to Violence describes eight core principles:

  1. "Work Together" Encouraging close coordination among all agencies and organizations that protect children or help children exposed to violence.
  2. "Begin Earlier" Placing increased emphasis on new parents and very young children.
  3. "Think Developmentally" Modifying efforts to best serve children in different age groups.
  4. "Make Mothers Safe To Keep Children Safe" Recognizing that child maltreatment and violence against women are closely related.
  5. "Enforce the Law" Ensuring accountability for offenders, including vigorous prosecution, tougher sentencing and aggressive follow-up.
  6. "Make Adequate Resources Available" Making better use of current resources while securing substantial and sustained financial investments from both the public and private sector.
  7. "Work From a Sound Knowledge Base" Making sure that efforts are based on solid research and that these efforts are throughly evaluated.
  8. "Create a Culture of Nonviolence" Working toward a larger social environment with no tolerance for violence, including resolving conflicts peacefully and increasing public awareness of the harm of children's exposure to violence.

The Action Plan provides steps that agencies, communities and individuals can take to apply each of these principles. It also spotlights programs that have shown promise and offers contacts for additional information.

"The ideas and resources in this guide will help policymakers, professionals and parents come together to develop efforts based on sound principles that meet the needs of children and families in their communities," said John J. Wilson, Acting Administrator of the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), which produced the Action Plan.

Copies Safe From the Start: Taking Action on Children Exposed to Violence and information about other OJJDP publications, programs and conferences are available through the OJJDP Website at or the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse at 1-800/638-8736. Information about other bureaus and program offices in the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs is available at Media should contact OJP's Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703.

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